Archive for August, 2008

Sarah Palin and the Next GOP

August 30, 2008

Most of the old names of the last or current generation of Washington GOP leaders were not considered for VP. No Thompson, McConnell, Lott, Giuliani, Armey, Gingrich, Hastert, Lugar, Hagel, Santorum, Kemp, Schwarzennevermind. I’d heard a few, Sen. Brownback and Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Gov. Tom Ridge whispered about recently.  Then there was Minn. Gov Pawlenty and of course fmr. Gov. Romney.  Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress was mentioned.  Was there a dearth of talent in the GOP major and minor leagues such that a young Alaskan Governor will be on the ticket?  Does it take a bold choice to compete with the excitement of Sen. Obama?

Neo-cons like Frum and Krauthammer find the choice lacks seriousness regarding our greatest threat, global terrorism. Meanwhile Kristol and Barnes at Weekly Standard try to keep the positives in focus, good soldiers that they are.  But do expect the friction between middle-America conservatism (paleo) and neo-cons to increase during the campaign. Though neither group’s disenchantment is much of a threat to the coalition this cycle, as they are not ikely to run to Libertarian candidate Bob Barr.

I’ve chosen below to summarize a few of the energetic younger conservative blogs who generally approve the Gov. Palin choice politically and ideologically.  Why do I focus on them instead of my friends at Open Left and Daily Kos?  Well, if the old guard GOP is dying, it would be nice to see what might rise in its place.



Tattoo You?

August 30, 2008

I Corinthians "Love is.."

Chronicles of Atlantis directs us to R.R.Reno’s fine essay at First Things. Chronicles supplemental insights are not his own, he rather “defers to the words of René Girard on originality.” Girard, as you know, is the literary scholar who developed anthropology in the service of theology.

Reno’s essay is short, moving and sad.  He sympathizes with the desire of many youth, especially the successful meritocrats, to stand out a tad in their heavily standardized and mobile lives.  See what you (th)ink.


Populists against Merit and Obama

August 28, 2008

Also from the Telos blog:

No amount of spinning is going to make either Barack Obama or his wife average Americans. He is no everyman, and why should he be? He is an extraordinarily gifted member of his generation, who was offered every opportunity for success by the Meritocracy, a system of social promotion of a diverse student body based upon the standardized test…Why does meritocratic selection make Barack Obama fundamentally unpopular with white working class Americans?

Because meritocracy was designed to overturn the principles of economic and social justice, replacing redistribution of wealth with rationalized distribution of opportunity. Meritocracy breaks the promise of social and economic justice and replaces it with a form of allegedly “scientific” and progressive scholastic triage… What we are experiencing,what we have experienced in the past twenty years, is a populist revolt against this system


Rights Talk: Demopaths in the UN Edition

August 28, 2008
Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Can liberal, rights-based society sustain itself under threats from inside (i.e. loss of respect for rule of law and tyranny) and outside (overtaken by enemies of liberal society)?

The Telos Journal blog recently assessed these developments, finding “The Declaration of Human Rights is being distorted and damaged in the very name of human rights.” Scholar Richard Landes has coined a useful term for this tragedy.

Demopaths are people who use democratic language and invoke human rights only when it serves their interests, and not when it calls for self-criticism or self-restraint. Demopaths demand stringent levels of human “rights” but do not apply these basic standards for the “other” to their own behavior. The most lethal demopaths use democratic rights to destroy democracy.”

See below for commentary and choice excerpts from the Telos post.


Charges of Genocide and the Current Scapegoat Mechanism

August 19, 2008

We hear conflicting accounts of who instigated violence in South Ossetia. While the situation has not yet sparked the constellation of interested parties to multiply the violence to a flurry of chaos, the charged language employed here is informative.

The rhetoric on the pro-Georgian side, mostly what is heard in US reports, identifies Russian military actions with Hitler’s expansionism (Czech. or Poland) or the much despised old Soviet regime (generally toward its neighbors or Hungary ’56, Prague ’68). “New Cold War” is a term bandied about among commentators. Several values underly this view — military expansionism is unjustifiable violence; sovereignty of former Soviet republics is sacrosanct, violence against such aggressors is justified. Below I use Rene Girard’s mimetic theory to explore further.


Civics, not Celebrity

August 14, 2008

The topic is now prominent in the presidential campaign. It would have been nice if Obama hadn’t responded to the celebrity charge in the way he did (you’re a bigger DC celebrity than me). Peter Levine posts a message Obama could still employ.

This statement acknowledges the principle behind the opponents attack, examines the dangerous forces of celebrity culture and its negative impact on political life, sees oneself as implicated and not above the problem, takes the high ground and sets the terms of a new debate by asking the attacker to join ways to support counter-institutions and habits — various forms of local civic and communal participation. Well done, Peter. After the fold I share challenges of CIVICS not CELEBRITY in my civic education work. Here’s some snippets from Levine’s post:

“John McCain has been running ads associating me with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. He has been criticized for those ads, but I believe they reflect a deep concern that I share with him…

I can hardly believe the appetite for news about Paris and Britney–and now Angelina and Beyonce–when there are wars going on, and the earth’s climate is shifting dangerously, and our people are losing jobs and health coverage. Not only are there serious problems to read about; there are also wonderful people doing amazing things to solve our problems. They work together at the grassroots level, leading organizations, cleaning up the environment, mentoring kids, creating art and culture. But these real, active citizens get one thousandth of the attention of a single Hollywood star breakup…


The Spokesdrone

August 13, 2008

From the Onion News Network:

Pentagon’s Unmanned Spokesdrone Completes First Press Conference Mission

Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan

(see, that wasn’t hard to do)

Confederate-tainted Conspiracy Theory Links

August 13, 2008

Thanks to the dozens of folks who’ve stopped by from and Crimlaw‘s nod to where where they heard about the story (see “Too Weird for the Wire” below and the original story here). I posted comments on those sites which developed my thinking beyond my original post.  Use the above.

Just today, renowned blogger Andrew Sullivan has picked up the ball but, alas, fails to mention yours truly.  I can’t recall if I sent Andrew the link back on July 30 which I sent to half-dozen higher-profile blogs that might have an interest.  (Turns out my BCC: Blind Carbon Copy keeps the addresses hidden forever.) But, he had to have read it from one of those posts which link to me.  I mean, does anyone read the Washington Monthly still? (sorry Kevin Drum and Mr. Peters)

Anyway, I’ll await the popularity from an Andrew Sullivan link until I’m more mature and can better handle the attention.  Mr. Kevin Carey, author of aforementioned story, feel free to write me about the responses you’ve been getting or anything else you wanna talk about.  Maybe we can see a movie or something?  I like drama but really whatever you want to see is cool with me.

Conference Bingo

August 12, 2008

Contemplating an upcoming academic conference, Eszter Hargittai at Crooked Timber writes, “[w]hile I think playing buzzword bingo at a presentation is a bit rude, the idea of having a bingo card for the whole conference seems more reasonable.” Here’s a few she and fellow CT blogger Kieran noted.

  • Mac user surprised that cable won’t connect to projector
  • Use of PowerPoint in Normal View instead of Slide Show
  • Aimless lingerer at book exhibit
  • Loitering at book exhibit in hopes of finding editor
  • “But you didn’t write the paper I would have written” comment during Q&A
  • Never-ending comment posing as question during Q&A

Below the fold I include some of the best ideas from the comments. For more grad school tribulations, also see PhD Comics.


Sympathy for the Devil?

August 12, 2008

Adam Kirsch in the New York Sun book section claims, “Almost seven years after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, readers still display a surprising hunger for the definitive ‘9/11 novel.’ If fiction cannot cope with the biggest event of our lifetimes, then its long-prophesied death is surely at hand.”

Kirsch, respected critic for The Sun, finds the genre has failed.

“[t]he best novels in [the 9/11] genre eschew…direct psychologizing. Instead of delving into the mind of the terrorist and coming up empty-handed, they concentrate on the more comprehensible experience of the victim and the bystander.” Why is it that our novelists, despite their best efforts, cannot write a politically informed, psychologically convincing book about Islamic terrorism? Why is it so difficult to bring such a terrorist to life on the page?

Kirsch later laments that today’s writers have no “inner sympathy” the terrorist. Quite a surprise in The Sun, a paper well-known for its conservative perspective. Let’s go back to Russia to see what he means. (more…)